A Fun History of Walker, Minnesota You May Not Have Known

The Early Days of Walker, MN

Like much of the United States, the land known today as Walker, MN was originally inhabited by indigenous people. The Dakota tribe settled there for a long time before they were eventually pushed out by the Ojibwe people, moving west from the Great Lakes. European American settlers encroached on these Native American territories as they followed the fur trade in the late 1800’s.

Walker, Minnesota’s Founder

Patrick McGarry founded the town of Walker in 1896, following the construction of the Minnesota & International Railroad, which ended in Walker. The town started out as a hot spot for fur trading but with the construction of the rail line, the business expanded. McGarry named the town after the successful logging tycoon Thomas B. Walker, in hopes of driving a new kind of business to the area.

Thomas Walker wound up founding the neighboring town of Akeley, due to his wife’s sensitivity to Walker’s rough, frontier nature. The town of Walker did benefit from these nearby operations and many other businesses, jobs, and services were generated as a result.

Changing Industries Over the Years

Throughout the 1900s, tourism took over as the primary industry of Walker, as it became a destination town of Northern Minnesota. People from surrounding cities began to pursue and prioritize recreation, and the lake provided abundant opportunities. At one time, Leech Lake had over 100 resorts located on it! In 1950, Walker hit its highest population of 1,175 residents. These days, it’s back below the 1,000 thresholds.

Walker, Minnesota Today

Today, Walker is best known for being a quaint town “up north.” The downtown area has many unique businesses including family restaurants and boutique shops. Leech Lake is still the main attraction and the town revolves around the seasons. Boating, swimming, and fishing rule over the summer while winter brings opportunities to snowmobile, ice fish, shop, and keep warm inside the cabin!

If you’re interested in becoming one of the 1,000 people that call this area their seasonal or year-round home, just take a look at our current Leech Lake listings!